When anyone speaks of making changes to the touring industry to create safer environments for artist’s mental health, there are two types of changes that they hope to make. The first is societal change, or changing the way that we discuss our mental health with each other on a day to day basis. The second is institutional change, or creating a standard guideline for how mental health should be treated within our laws and structures. Right now, I would like to discuss the former and specifically the type of societal changes that I hope to see in the touring industry.
Currently, the industry is rapidly changing its perspective on mental health and is having discussions about the effects of touring life on artists. Musicians are speaking up about their experiences with mental health, treatments and how these have affected their time on tour. Many music publications are pulling together information on what current musicians are saying, resources available for artists and what more we could be doing. Organizations are being formed to conduct studies on the mental health of artists and to be resources for those that are struggling. The world is also taking notice and is beginning to understand the unique struggles that artists are going through.
Small changes are being made constantly along with some big landmark changes that we should aim towards. It’s important for it to become an industry standard to have mental health resources available directly on tours for artists and crew members. I have discussed this before with training managers in Mental Health First Aid. This resource does not need to be a licensed mental health professional but simply someone that is trained to speak to those experiencing a mental health crisis. On Warped Tour, both Hope For The Day and To Write Love On Her Arms are mental health nonprofits that travel on the cross-country tour. I have personally interned with Hope For The Day at Warped Tour Dates and they always have a couple staff on the tour that are trained in Mental Health First Aid. Concert-goers are welcomed to stop at the tent to have a conversation if they are struggling, and artists are welcomed to do the same if they need to talk to someone while on the tour.
In a similar direction, artists and crew should have easy access to local resources in each stop of the tour. Whether these resources are compiled by labels and kept accessible to artists throughout the tour or venues put together their own lists of resources, there should be a way for touring members to find the local hospital or AA meetings in the area. Although artists are able to travel around the world on tours, they do not have the chance to learn the places that they are briefly visiting. Some may not even know what city they are waking up in so having an easy access to resources in the area would be important.
We are seeing it more commonly now, but hopefully artists will become more comfortable with speaking about their mental health experiences on their platform. Many artists currently do this but, hopefully, there will be a break in the wall that currently separated artists and fans that allows for each group to be seen as an equal. Rather than expecting perfection from artists, I hope that fans will have a better understanding of the life that artists experiences and how that affects their ability to perform each night.
Progress is happening and is continuing to move forward. In the future, these numerous small changes will lead to major impacts within the industry. And, hopefully with these changes, we will begin to see healthier artists, safer environments and longer careers within the music industry.